A gay-themed episode from the critically-acclaimed AppleTV+ series Little America has been banned in 10 Middle Eastern countries and Russia, according to its writer.
The episode, written by Amrou Al-Kadhi and Stephen Dunn and called “The Son”, is the show’s finale episode and deals with a gay Syrian refugee trying to gain asylum in the United States so he can live openly. Haaz Sleiman and Adam Ali star in the episode. The episode is based, as are all of them but one, on the first person story of Shadi Ismail published in Epic Magazine.
The filmmakers had already experienced difficulties in getting the show filmed in the U.S.. Due to Trump’s travel ban, many of the film’s cast and crew were unable to enter the U.S. and the episode’s production was moved to Canada.
Wrote Al-Kadhi on social media: “This is the harsh reality of making queer Arab work. The Trump travel ban meant we had to move this shoot out of America. And now our #LittleAmerica episode has been banned in 11 countries. We’re so sorry about this – please know we’re working hard to find a way to get it to you.”
The Washington Post notes: “‘The Son,’ one of eight episodes in the dramatic anthology, follows Ismail as he flees Syria, hides in Jordan and perseveres until he eventually makes his way to the American Northwest. Ismail, 32, said he was moved to tears by actor Haaz Sleiman’s portrayal. ‘All my life I was hoping to see a gay Arabic man on TV,’ he says. ‘In our culture, we’re told we should be killed because nobody wants us. And then it turns out my story will be the one on TV.’”
Al-Kadhi expressed frustration about the situation: “We were so excited to be given the platform to tell this story – it’s based on a true one – because not only is there very limited representation of queer Arabs, immigrants in particular have been dehumanised into statistics and horror stories by the media. … There are countless other Rafiq’s right now whose lives are threatened because of the current global politics, and what we wanted to do was give them a voice.”
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